"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27, 28 NASB)
As if the blessings and the woes weren't difficult enough to hear, Jesus plunged right in to a discourse on loving your enemies. For a people who had suffered horribly at the hands of their enemies for centuries, these were hard words. For people who were surrounded by armed enemies in the form of Roman soldiers, these were impossible words. Impossible, except for the grace of God and as an act of the will.
Most of us in this country will (hopefully) never have the kind of enemy who invades our land, takes our freedom, rapes, pillages, and terrorizes, but many of our readers experience these frightful horrors on a regular basis We do, however, experience the kind of enemy who says unkind words, starts rumors, cheats in business dealings, betrays us, and does all manner of unkind and hurtful things to us. Those wounds can trigger the same fierce emotions in us that the invading marauders trigger.
Jesus has a simple solution to either kind of enemy. Love them. It seems easier said than done, but it IS possible. Jesus knew it would be hard, so He told us how to get started with it using a three-step plan.
1) Do good to those who hate you. It's not optional if you plan to obey Christ in loving your enemies. When you have an opportunity to do good or get in a little revenge toward your enemy, choose good. When you can, do good. My grandmother used to say, "Kill the devil with kindness." She wasn't far off.
2) Blessing those who curse you involves your words, as opposed to doing good to them, which involves your actions. Don't add fuel to the fire with your own unkind words. My grandmother also said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Exactly.
3) Pray for your enemies. The first two ways of loving are not possible without this most important step. In fact, loving your enemies is a choice that starts with prayer. If you can't think of a blessing you want your enemy to receive, begin by praying that God will bless them with conviction that leads to repentance and transformation. Praying for your enemy also requires that you pray for your own attitude about them. Praying for the heart of Christ toward them is a great way to start.
Loving your enemy requires every part of your being. Your heart begins by praying, your mind by blessing, and your body by doing good. This loving is a package deal, and no part is optional.
Are you willing to love your enemies? Will you love even those who have contributed to the problems your loved ones encounter?
If you want to change the world, begin by loving your enemies. Nothing points to Jesus more than this. You will leave those around you stunned and deeply affected. You might just draw them to Christ.
Today, pray that we will love our enemies with our whole being and that our loved ones will be drawn to Jesus by what they see.
Here's the link to last night's post: